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Friday, September 29th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 23

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


The Prophet here describes the overthrow of Tyre, and in characters of great misery. Promises are made in the close of the chapter, of a change.

Verses 1-7

It is remarkable that this prophecy was delivered at a time when Tyre was in the height of prosperity, and resting to the full in the enjoyment of flourishing trade and merchandize. For long after this, the prophets Ezekiel and Zechariah, both of them, took notice of the pride and greatness of Tyre. Ezekiel 28:1 to the end. Zechariah 9:3-4 . But of what avail is the pomp of nations, where the love of God is not? Of what avail is worldly prosperity to individuals unsanctified by grace!

Verses 8-9

There is hardly a passage in the whole prophecy of Isaiah more full and comprehensive than what is contained in these verses, to set forth man's nothingness, and the Lord's all-sufficiency. The Prophet puts forth the subject in the form of a question; as if speaking after the manner of men, nothing can be competent to overthrow a people, whose very merchants are princes. Yes, saith the Prophet, answering his own question; the Lord of Hosts, who razed Tyre, can and will destroy it. Reader, take home the precious instruction, from the history of nations in their rise and fall, to your own individual instance, in all the circumstances of life, and learn from it that solemn truth of Jesus, in the interesting question he put, and which answers itself: what is a man profited though he gain the whole world, if he lose his own soul? Mark 8:36 ; Luke 12:16-21 .

Verses 10-14

Here we are brought acquainted with the means the Lord will make use of, for the overthrow of Tyre. The Chaldeans shall be the Lord's instruments; and what adds to the aggravation of Tyre's sorrow, to humble her pride still more, is, that she shall be brought down by a power, which, like a mushroom that springs up in a night, was nothing in the days of Tyre's grandeur. The Chaldeans were not, until the Assyrian founded the nation: it was but a wilderness. Reader, it is distressing to the proud, both of empires and individual persons, to be brought low; but when the Lord makes use of contemptible instruments to humble them; this is humbling indeed. And is it not so now? In the contentions of nations do we not see it? In the bringing down the lofty looks of a sinner, is it not done frequently by humbling providences, such as sickness, poverty, and the like? See a beautiful illustration, Jeremiah 31:18-20 . And another, Luke 15:13-19 .

Verses 15-18

It is worthy remark, that Tyre's captivity was appointed by the Lord, to be of the same length as Israel's, and under the same government. Was this designed, (I only ask the question, not determine) that the children of Tyre, by mingling with God's Israel in captivity, might become acquainted with Israel's God? Certain it is, that after Tyre began to recover from her ruin, and commenced trade again, there was a friendly intercourse between Israel and Tyre. In the days of Nehemiah, certain men of Tyre lived in Judah, for the holy man of God complained of their profaning the sabbath in selling their fish on the Lord's day, Nehemiah 13:16 . And it should seem, by what our Lord saith of Tyre and Sidon, that he had his eye upon it for good; Matthew 11:21-22 . And in the after age, when Christ had finished redemption, and was returned to glory, the apostles, in their general dispersion of preaching the gospel, found disciples in Tyre, Acts 21:4 . Reader, who shall say, but that for the conversion of the men of Tyre, in bringing the Lord's heritage that were among them to the knowledge of Jesus, the overthrow of Tyre was appointed? Who shall calculate to what extent in the present hour the Lord is accomplishing his purpose, in the commotions of the earth, among kingdoms and people, in order to gather his dispersed to himself, from all the varieties of the earth? Oh, what a subject of this kind will open in heaven, when the Lord shall have brought home his whole Church! Then every tongue will break out in that voice of praise, in singing the song of Moses, and of the Lamb, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty: just and true are thy ways, thou, King of saints! Revelation 15:3 .

Verse 18


READER, how truly blessed is it to see, in the rise and fall of nations, that the Lord is carrying on his own gracious purposes; that all the events of nations, kingdoms, and empires, are but ministering to that little handful of people, whom God hath formed for himself, and to show forth his praise! The mind is lost in amazement, when beholding the love, and care, and the watchings over of the Lord upon his Israel. It was said of them, as a distinguishing feature of character, that they should dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations. And uniformly through the Bible, we find this to be the case. In God the Father's purpose they thus have all along moved on. In Jesus love, and grace, and favor, everything is made to minister to them. And in the mercy, teachings, and influences of the Holy Ghost, all his tendencies are towards them. So that if the overthrow of nations shall promote Israel's welfare, the Lord overthrows them. If the prosperity of nations become necessary to humble Israel, the Lord brings this to pass also. In all things, and by all means, Jehovah is forwarding his gracious designs for his Church, and the final happiness of Zion, and of the redeemed of the Lord, is at the bottom of all the dispensations and providences going on throughout the world. Reader, think of this; carry the thought with you wherever you go; bring it into recollection whatever history you read, of the nations that are past, or of the nations now existing; and while the solemn thought is deeply impressed both upon your mind and my own, oh! for grace to inquire and search diligently, whether we are of the true Israel of God? If we are not of this world, but Jesus hath chosen us out of the world, what have we to do with its customs, and its pleasures and pursuits? Surely we cannot have a more decided testimony, than when sitting aloof from all its unnecessary concerns. If Jesus be our portion, then our intimacy will not be great with those, who have their portion only in this life. O how sweetly doth Jesus call to his hidden ones, who dwell indeed, but do not belong, to the men of Tyre, and of Zidon, in the present day: Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 23". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/isaiah-23.html. 1828.
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